December JALT Event in Fukuoka



Lexical Acquisition: A Look at the Role of Memory and Practice


David Beglar, Graduate College of Education at Temple University Japan


Sunday, December 12, 1999


2:00 to 5:00


Aso Foreign Language Travel College
Hakataekiminami 2-12-24
(10 minutes from Hakata Station on foot
- see the map in English or see the map in Japanese for details)


Free for JALT members.
Non members may become "one day members" by paying a fee of 1000 yen.
(If you are interested in becoming a regular JALT member, you can join at the meeting. Check out the benefits of JALT membership by reading our "joining JALT" page.)


Kevin O'Leary, 0942-22-2221 (tel/fax),

Which word is more frequent: "strong" or "similarity"? Do more words begin with the letter "r" or the letter "j"? You are probably able to answer questions such as these with little or no difficulty. The reason for this is that you are sensitive to a variety of statistical and probabilistic types of information about your environment in general and language in particular. This sensitivity is very likely hardwired into the human brain, and it appears to play a major role in the acquisition of first and second language vocabulary.

On the other hand, people also learn vocabulary using a very different pathway which operates on a very simple principle: practice. "Practice" can be further broken down into the notions of frequency, recency, and regularity, all of which are important in second language vocabulary acquisition. Although this pathway involves awareness, requires an investment of time, and demands effort on the part of the learner, the rewards are potentially great for those who persevere.

This presentation will look at three aspects of second language vocabulary development:

  1. the operation of implicit and explicit encoding mechanisms and the part which they play in lexical acquisition;
  2. the role of memory and ways in which learners can work with rather than against their memory functions;
  3. ways in which practicing teachers can encourage the development of larger, well-networked vocabularies in their students.

Although the presentation will involve references to theory and research in the field of lexical acquisition, many practical suggestions will be made concerning what that research means for those teaching and learning foreign language vocabulary.

David Beglar teaches in the Graduate College of Education at Temple University Japan where he is also a doctoral candidate. His research interests include language testing, structural equation modeling, vocabulary acquisition, and language for specific purposes.

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